Point and Shoot

Can profundity be accidental? Marshall Curry's documentary Point and Shoot is a study in naifdom that seems to think it's about something else: masculinity, honor, war. But it's mostly about the way Americans of means see the wider world as a self-help proving ground, an exotic backdrop against which to stage movie-star adventures. The difference here? The Mitty-style American actualizing himself is also filming himself -- and, hey, look, now he is the movie star he daydreamed of becoming. He's even the de facto narrator, ensuring that nothing -- not even an Arab Spring -- distracts us from his hero's journey.

Matthew VanDyke, Point and Shoot's hero/subject, throws in with the opposition forces who brought down Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. VanDyke gushes, "When I saw myself in news reports fighting, it became validation that I was a real rebel fighter." Dodging bullets in the desert isn't enough for the experience to, like, count.

VanDyke and the men he fights with seem under near constant assault. I say "seem" because the footage, as seen here, lacks narrative context; we see VanDyke shot at in a jeep, then shot at near some houses, then in a jeep again. The focus is entirely on his danger -- and how being harrowed by war helps him triumph over his once-debilitating OCD. Eventually, VanDyke is tasked with bringing down a sniper. Finally, he lifts his gun, fires, and waits. A moment later, we hear him reflect in voiceover: "I had myself filmed trying to take another human life, and what does that say about me?" That he considers his choices more interesting than the overthrow of one of the world's great tyrants?



  • Marshall Curry


  • Matthew Vandyke


  • Marshall Curry

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